Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg heads into his sophomore season missing his favorite target from 2013. Wide receiver Allen Robinson, the best in the Big Ten Conference the last two years, is no longer around. While the Nittany Lions seem to be lacking a star receiver heading into the 2014 season, there are several players who will now have opportunities to step up and be an important part of the passing attack. Between returning players and newcomers at wide receiver and tight end, Hackenberg will have a variety of targets to throw to.
The list of possible targets includes everything from speedy receivers to sure-handed tight ends whose big bodies can cause matchup problems, especially in the redzone.
Eugene Lewis has the best chance to step in and be Hackenberg’s new favorite target. He showed speed last season and an ability to be a playmaker when needed. He scored two touchdowns in the final game of 2013 and seems poised for a big 2014 season. Joining Lewis as one of the likely top wide receivers in 2014 is Richy Anderson, who gained valuable experience as a true freshman last season. He has a smaller build for a receiver, but has speed and can be dangerous in the slot.
Speed seems like a trend in the wide receiver department at Penn State. True freshman De’Andre Thompkins is the fastest guy on the team and could be someone who can take the top off the defense and become a legitimate downfield threat. DaSean Hamilton also has speed and was an accomplished receiver in high school, but has been unable to play in college yet due to a wrist injury.
Matt Zanellato, who brings experience and stands at six-foot-three, will present a tall, reliable target for Hackenberg.
While none of the wide receivers are likely to turn into stars this season as Robinson did, Hackenberg should be able to count on the guys he has to throw too. Helping with his confidence will be his core of very experienced and talented tight ends.
Three tight ends, who all posses a different body build and skill set, all caught passes from Hackenberg last season. Jesse James, Kyle Carter and Adam Breneman all represent reliable targets in the passing attack, especially in the middle of the field. Brent Wilkerson will be added to Penn State’s group of tight ends in 2014, providing big targets to throw to when the tough yards are needed.
As if all of those targets are not enough, running back Bill Belton is a dangerous receiver out of the backfield who can take a short pass and turn it into a big play at any time.
The Penn State passing attack will certainly miss Robinson, but there are enough weapons to help Hackenberg be successful again this season.
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